‘No bed syndrome’ at hospitals inimical to healthcare

BY: Hadiza Nuhhu-Billa Quansah
‘No bed syndrome’ the cause of needless deaths
‘No bed syndrome’ the cause of needless deaths

The constant turning away of patients in critical conditions across the country on the pretext of no beds should, according to health experts, be brought to a halt.

According to the health experts, the ‘no bed syndrome’ which has been going on for a while, is a public health safety hazard which needs urgent attention.

This issue came up during this year’s Dr Nyaho Tamaklo Medical Symposium which was held in Accra.

The symposium, on the theme: “The future of patient safety in Ghana: The way forward”, was aimed at creating a platform to encourage stimulating discussions to influence policies in the country’s private and public healthcare sector and consequently improve on patient outcomes.

A participant recounted his harrowing experience about how he was turned away from a hospital with a patient simply because the nurses said there were no available beds. However, out of anger, he stormed into some of the wards and counted a number of empty beds to his dismay.

The Executive Director and  Head of the Africa Region of the Institute for Healthcare Improvement, Dr Sodzi-Sodzi Tettey, who spoke on ambulatory safety, stated sensitive issues such as patients waiting on ambulance stretchers, delayed diagnosis, referral management, ward transfer, test result follow-up and cognitive errors.

“By improving communication among patients and families and clinical staff during ambulatory transitions in care, the toolkit has the potential to address any safety issues that may arise. A growing body of evidence shows a clear association between engaging with patients and families, fewer adverse events, better patient self-management and reduced hospital readmissions,” he explained.

Touching on a culture of safety, Dr Sodzi-Sodzi said it was important for leaders to establish and sustain a safety culture in health care, adding that professionals must be accountable for their unprofessional conducts but not punished for human mistakes.

“There should be strong feedback loops to enable learning from previous errors to prevent recurrences,” he stated.

Affirming the issue of medical errors in health facilities on patient safety, which took centre stage at the symposium, he said harm and error in healthcare delivery were not things to look far for.

Dr Sodzi-Sodzi stated that a number of patients lost their lives because of such errors, adding that errors were real in healthcare delivery and “we are talking about it because we want to be transparent and acknowledge that these are issues that persist”.

Sharing her personnel experience, a cerebral palsy patient and Co-founder and Chief Technology Officer of Logisticiel (Ghana) Ltd, Ms Farida Nana Efua Bedwei, said the patient was looking for a medical officer who was willing to listen to him or her and “not brush their concerns aside based on the presumption that he/she knows more than the patient”.

“I know you are overworked and stressed out most of the time, especially those in the public hospitals, but a friendly countenance and a little patience will encourage patients to communicate their symptoms better and you will be able to diagnose and treat more accurately, thereby leading to a happy and healthier nation,” she pointed out.